Retirement planning

The double-barreled retirements of Senators Dodd and Dorgan – combined with the revelations that Democratic frontrunnerswill be giving up bids to claim and maintain (respectively) in Michigan and Colorado – launched speculation of what possibilities await the Republican party in 2010.

In the Senate, the Democrats’ prospects have actually brightened.  Dodd’s seat would have been a near lock for a Republican pickup.  In both Connecticut and North Dakota, new Democratic candidates can run against the status quo without being tainted by the failures of the previous or current Congress.

And nationally, while Dodd and Dorgan have generated some Republican excitement, these types of anouncements are better done early in a cycle than late.  Like ripping off a band-aid in one fell swoop, early retirements allow adequate time to allow the media story of a flailing party to run its course and to recruit and fund replacements on the ballot.

There are going to be more calls for Senate Democrats to retire, though, as several incumbents have polled weakly.  But of all the flagging incumbents, the one who might be most likely could be Majority Leader Harry Reid – even if there is no obvious replacement for him on the ticket.

In many respects, Reid is in the same position as Tom Daschle was in 2004 – a vulnerable national party leader whose prominence caused some within his own state to feel he had lost touch with them.  And like Daschle, Reid will fight not only Republicans within his own state, but GOP donors and volunteers from across the country who sense blood in the water and are hungry for a win that would officially end the “Republican Party is Dying” media story (for a few years, at least).

That kind of energy fueling a get out the vote operation could cause a 5% bounce, seriously hurting not only Reid, but other Democrats… including gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid, the Majority Leader’s son.

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